Resident Evil Afterlife Review: Apparently Zombies Aren't the Only Things That Won't Die

The Resident Evil franchise has always fascinated me because I think that it makes for a very cool science fiction storyline of a greedy corporation that is so powerful that it does whatever it wants, including destroying cities overrun with zombies that they are responsible for.

The series is based on a 1996 Capcom game of the same name. The movies have created new characters such as main protagonist Alice (Milla Jovovich) but characters featured in the video games have made their appearances throughout the various films including the latest one, Resident Evil: Afterlife.

This is the fourth one in the franchise and it picks up where Resident Evil: Extinction ended. Alice must fight for her life once again against the Umbrella Corporation and it’s evil Chairman Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts). Along the way we find out what happened to Claire Redfield and on a bigger scale what’s happened to the rest of the world. For those who have never seen any of the films before, the Umbrella Corporation is a rich and powerful entity that researches and experiments with different biological viruses. At the very beginning of the series the T-Virus is released into the Hive Research facility causing the initial outbreak. It’s this virus that is causing humans to turn into zombies and it’s also highly contagious, as one bite will infect you. Alice is a woman who used to work as a security officer at the Hive and is the only person every to have bonded with the T-Virus on a cellular level making her a prized specimen for the Umbrella Corporation.

The film starts with a young Japanese woman who appears to be the first person infected in Tokyo. Soon it spreads everywhere and audiences get the idea that most of the planet has been overrun by zombies. There also is a message being played on emergency frequency of a place called Arcadia offering food and shelter to survivors. But that turns out to be not quite what the characters were expecting.

You didn’t see this movie for the plot or the character development because there wasn’t really much of either. In fact it felt more like the middle part of a film with the beginning and the ending missing. But maybe that’s what they were going for. All of the new characters introduced were one-dimensional and were killed off pretty quickly. They also brought in Chris Redfield (Wentworth Miller), who was one of the original players in the first game but even then you aren’t really given much of his back-story other than him working for an unnamed military organization.

Milla Jovovich’s performance of Alice was decent and I enjoyed seeing her acrobatic moves as she killed zombies. Whoever was the costume designer did a great job though in her outfit because it was very in style – thigh high boots, black leggings, military green parka, plus that leather vest for her knives and guns, kicking ass never looked so good. Unfortunately though even Alice was one note in this film because she appears to be completely unafraid of these flesh-eating zombies that want to eat her. Maybe she’s been killing them for so long that she’s totally jaded. There is a crucial bit of information that made me wonder how she could act that way even when her biology changed.

Claire Redfield played by Ali Larter was passable. Larter did a much better job as Nikki Sanders on NBC’s Heroes. Her character spent most of the movie recovering from amnesia but she did display some action chops especially in a scene when Claire and Alice are battling this crazy mutant zombie who carries around a large axe and has a potato sack over his head. I didn’t get how he saw through that thing.

Speaking of that moment, I got this sexual tension vibe coming from Alice and Claire especially at the end of that scene. Is there supposed to be something going on there from the last film? In fact there were a lot of these little instances where it seemed like Alice was extra sensitive to Claire’s situation. Plus I feel like they were standing very close to each other an awful lot. But maybe I’m just reading into it.

What captured my attention aside from the action scenes were the different backgrounds. I’m not a connoisseur of CGI effects but I thought they did a good job at creating post apocalyptic Tokyo and Los Angeles. The Umbrella Corporation sets were also very cool. I liked how clean and sterile their facilities were and it was futuristic looking enough.

The movie was filmed for 3D and I think it actually worked well. While it’s no Avatar, the 3D did enhance details beautifully like rain drops and color. I think it made Jovovich and Larter look prettier (though how can you look that clean when you’ve been running from zombies is baffling). It also made the zombies look better when you can see the details in their pointy teeth while they do their mouth splitting move.

The main problem though is that in a good sequel it didn’t matter if you saw the previous film or films. It would be cohesive with a beginning, middle, and end. Like I mentioned earlier, Resident Evil: Afterlife is all middle and it probably would be frustrating for a person who hasn’t seen the franchise to be satisfied with the plot. If you’re looking to be entertained by violence and gore though, this film certainly delivers that.

Something tells me that we’ll see Alice again in a few years time. Apparently zombies aren’t the only things that won’t die as this series continues on. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Photos by RAFY – © 2010 Constantin Film International GmbH & Davis Films

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